The 2022 Green Communities Leading the Way for a More Sustainable Metro Atlanta

The Atlanta Regional Commission started the Green Communities program in 2009 to recognize local governments that prioritize programs and policies that create a more sustainable region. 

Here are the six cities and counties that earned Green Communities recertification in 2022.

The City of Chamblee

Upgraded to Platinum

Green Community since 2017

In 2022, the City of Chamblee focused on creating sustainable municipal spaces that protect the environment while also reducing expenses.

The city's recent sustainable landscaping policy for the first time sets standards to limit pollution from pest control, landscape materials, and fertilizers. Chamblee City Hall is just one place you can see the policy in action.

The city has set sustainable building requirements, too.

Chamblee uses the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to create benchmarks for energy use in city buildings and to track progress.

And now, all new developments that exceed 20,000 square feet in size must obtain a third-party sustainable building certification, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or ENERGY STAR.

Chamblee is one of just two cities in the entire state that requires certification for new builds of this size.

City of Decatur

Recertified Platinum

Green Community since 2009

Green building efforts are a central part of the City of Decatur’s strategy to create a more sustainable and resilient community.

The city requires all new residential and commercial buildings to attain a green building certification. The rule applies to large-scale renovations, too.

Plus, Decatur is prioritizing its solar readiness, offering an expedited permitting process for residential rooftop solar photovoltaic panel installations to make it easier for everyday folks to reduce their carbon footprint.

The City of Decatur isn’t just focusing on solar panels. It has also created a more comprehensive Clean Energy Plan to set goals and steps to help the city transition from fossil fuels.

And with cleaner energy fueling the city, Decatur will only become a more livable space.

It’s already well on its way considering it has been a certified BeeCity USA for 6 years and TreeCity USA for 12 years. Plus, it’s a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community and a Gold Level Walk Friendly Community.

Gwinnett County

Recertified Platinum

Green Community since 2010

Gwinnett County worked to expand access to glass recycling for its residents.

The county partnered with Waste Pro USA to install glass recycling containers at OneStop Norcross and at Pickneyville Park.

Together, the two sites have already redirected more than 35 tons of glass from heading to landfills in the first six months of the program.

Gwinnett County is also a leader in water conservation.

The county recently developed “The Water Tower,” a new center for water innovation that seeks to create cross-sector collaboration on some of the region’s greatest water challenges.

The county also completed in-house water audits of 3,500 fixtures in government owned buildings, identifying maintenance and replacement needs to prevent the unnecessary loss of potable water.

Fulton County

Upgraded to Gold

Green Community since 2010

Fulton County sees the light when it comes to solar power.

In 2022, the county worked to execute a 20-year Solar Energy Procurement Agreement. This agreement allows the county to purchase solar energy more efficiently, as it doesn’t require any upfront capital investment.

Plus, the solar power acquired will reduce carbon emissions by about 25% compared to traditional electricity.

At the Fulton County libraries, you’ll see a lot of intentional sustainability – including solar power.

The county owns and operates 30 libraries that are LEED certified.

The Cleveland Avenue library sports the county’s first rooftop solar photovoltaic array, producing over 3,500 kWh each month (according to the US Energy Information Administration, it takes about 850 kWh to power a residential home each month).

Over the lifetime of the panels, the library is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by more than 55 metric tons – that’s the same as planting about 67 acres of forest.

Cherokee County

Upgraded to Silver

Green Community since 2010

Cherokee County has worked on innovative ways to reuse and recycle in its community.

The county uses reclaimed municipal wastewater at its fire training center, which has reduced the amount of fresh water that firefighters and first responders use at the facility.

Not only does it save water – 150,000 gallons per week to be exact - it also saves the county $3,000 per month.

Plus, Cherokee County is upping the ante on its glass recycling.

The county recently purchased a glass pulverizer to turn glass collected at the county’s recycling center into material that can be used by its roads department for infrastructure projects.

The project saves the county over $11,000 per year in recycling costs.

City of Suwanee

Upgraded to Silver

Green Community since 2009

The City of Suwanee knows that its use of land can make or break its sustainability goals. That’s why the city works so hard to thoughtfully use spaces and resources.

Planting trees is important but taking care of them over their lifetime is just as critical. Suwanee implemented a Landscape Inspection Program to do just that. The program ensures that trees planted by developers remain healthy after projects are completed.

Suwanee has also worked to reduce its energy and water consumption, working with Georgia Power to retrofit all existing streetlights with LED lamps, which use 50% - 75% less energy.

The city also installed a Cool Roof on its City Hall. The roof will reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the building and help to minimize the urban heat island effect and energy costs.

Plus, the city uses a 2,500-gallon cistern to collect water for the 70 plus garden plots at the city’s Harvest Farms Community Garden.

2023 applications for the Green Communities Program are due May 25, 2023.

For more information about ARC’s Green Communities certification program and how your local government can apply, visit

If you would like to learn more about the certification, contact:

Images are courtesy of the 2022 Green Communities.